IA 4.2. Testing a new methodology for risk communication to improve WUI homeowners’ culture of risk



What kind of result is this?

Development of a targeted risk communication plan aimed at addressing human-caused ignitions by debris burning and leisure activities in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI). The aim is to effectively capture people’s (experts and laypeople) internal perceptions and cognitive representations of the world, using the Mental Model approach from Carnegie Mellon University.

What’s the area addressed?

Governance, Society, Communication And Risk Awareness

What’s the covered phase?

Prevention and Preparedness; Detection and Response; Restoration and Adaptation.

What’s the addressed challenge?

How can we effectively reduce rural fire risks by implementing a targeted risk communication plan for the rural population? The main challenge addressed is to identify specific information needs – such as knowledge gaps, misunderstandings, questions, concerns, and beliefs of the population – and create a plan for promoting efficient and effective communication of wildfire risks to homeowners in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) areas, thereby enhancing their understanding, risk-aware behaviours, and decision-making.

What value is proposed?

Focusing on accidental fire ignitions caused by debris burning and leisure activities, tailored communication strategies will be developed based on the comparison between experts and laypeople mental models, allowing the identification of knowledge gaps and mistaken beliefs to be corrected.

The proposed value includes enhancing wildfire preparedness and resilience among WUI homeowners through targeted, accessible, and actionable risk communication. These risk communication proposals aim to bridge knowledge gaps, correct misconceptions, and empower homeowners with the information necessary to the safe use of fire, to take proactive measures in wildfire defense and safety protocols, thereby mitigating potential damages and improving community safety.

Who can use it?

WUI homeowners; Fire affected people; Municipalities; Rural agents; Country councils; National or regional policymakers; Public agencies; Regional government, Culture- and media-based public and civil actors.

What type of tool is it?

Risk communication strategy/plan for fire-resilient community development, capturing internal perceptions of fire risks, offering tailored guidance to enhance understanding and promote appropriate responses, contributing to better-prepared communities for fire-related challenges, namely accidental fire ignitions caused by debris burning and leisure activities.

How does it look like?

Report; Policy briefs; Deliverables and publications.

This tool is…

⊠ a new tool

☐ an improved tool

What are the vision & mission statement?

Vision: To create resilient WUI communities through enhanced risk awareness and preparedness. Risk communication can vary widely depending on the specific audience, stakeholders, and context involved. Thus, a deep exploration from experts and community fire risk perception understanding is crucial for effective risk communication design. Through the effort in providing clear and accurate information and fostering trust and transparency, we aim to empower WUI communities, promoting their risk-aware behaviors and decision-making. In addition, it is expected to inspire decision-makers and stakeholders to design an effective risk communication plan oriented to prevent human caused ignitions, as well as socioeconomic and environmental impacts in the future.

Mission: To provide comprehensive, accurate, and actionable wildfire risk information tailored to the needs of WUI homeowners.

We aim to support the development of messages that effectively enhance wildfire awareness, considering the cultural and contextual factors and practices of different countries. This collaborative approach ensures that our strategies are both contextually relevant and impactful.

When will it be complete?



Risk Communication: A Mental Models Approach (MG Morgan, B Fischhoff, A Bostrom, CJ Atman, 2002)

Report, Policy briefs, Deliverable and publication are currently under development.

This IA is implemented in the Living Lab(s)…

Portugal (with two demonstration areas: Vale do Sousa and  Serra da Lousã).

Further discussion is ongoing about the possible replication of IA4.2 in the Catalonia and Sardinia Living Labs.


Brigite Botequim

Alexandra Marques